DENVER, Pa. – In service both functionally and decoratively in the same family’s home for the past half century, a Tiffany Studios Favrile hanging lamp in the rare Nasturtium Trellis pattern illuminated Morphy Auctions’ gallery on May 29 with a winning bid of $143,750 (inclusive of 15 percent buyer’s premium). Absolutely fresh to the market, the $1.4 million sale’s top lot was comprised of a profusely decorated 26½-inch conically shaped shade that featured blossoms shading from peach, burnt orange and crimson to violet and a rich mauve. Adding to its already plentiful visual appeal, the shade’s mottled opalescent Favrile-glass background displayed a foliate motif and unusual trellis “frame.”
Manufactured sometime between 1899 and 1906, the lamp was the very one illustrated in the book Louis Comfort Tiffany by Jacob Beal-Teshura. “There were several fine Tiffany lamps in the decorative arts section of this sale, but we knew this was the one collectors would bid on aggressively to own,” said Morphy’s chief operating officer, Dan Morphy. “Experts who viewed it were very excited over its rarity and outstanding original condition.” The glass masterpiece had been estimated at $125,000-$150,000. A separate bulletin on this lamp appears in a previous posting on news-antique.com.
The May 29-31 auction included 2,247 lots of antiques and art, as well as toys, figural doorstops, antique advertising and late-19th and early 20th-century coin-operated machines. In the decorative and applied arts, collector favorites included a Kate Greenaway figural silver napkin ring depicting a boy and girl on a bench, which earned $6,325 online; and a signed George Ohr art pottery pitcher with black glaze, which left its $500-$700 estimate in the dust as it flew to a closing price of $8,050.
Antique advertising was led by a rare Coca-Cola tin serving tray whose lithographed central image was of a nymph-like semi-nude woman holding a bottle of the classic American beverage. Made around 1908 and measuring 12¼ inches in diameter, the colorful tray achieved $16,100 against an estimate of $4,000-$7,000. A “timely” buy, a rare 20-inch reverse-painted-on-glass electric clock advertising Old Reading Beer also outdistanced its estimate, $4,000-$6,000, to close at $11,500.
Morphy’s has always drawn a strong contingent of marble buyers to its sales, and this time was no exception. The prize everyone seemed to be after was an extremely rare, complete 100-count box of Christensen Agate Co. marbles. Some of the marbles exhibited extraordinarily rare color combinations – “maybe even unique,” said Dan Morphy, himself a longtime marble enthusiast. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, the boxed selection finished its run at $18,400.
Other toys that drew particularly strong interest included a Lionel standard gauge #9E train set with original box, which sold to the Internet for $7,500 against an estimate of $2,000-$3,000; and a 26-inch Buddy ‘L’ pressed-steel Tank Line truck with original decals, which finally applied the brakes at an above-estimate price of $5,500.
An unusual entry that found favor with the crowd was a wonderful 15¼-inch-tall painted cast-iron doorstop fashioned as a brown bear. Licking his lips while eyeing a dab of honey held in his paw, the well-detailed bruin had no trouble surpassing estimate to reach $4,600. Also, a historically significant military item, a Nazi dagger with an inscription identifying it as a presentation item from SS commander Heinrich Himmler, finished just shy of its high estimate at $4,900.
The remarkable degree of Internet participation in Morphy’s Spring Antiques Auction validated the international following the company has built since its debut auction (in April 2004). More than 100,000 people visited the electronic auction catalog, with 1,695 of them registering to bid online. “There’s always tremendous interest in our sales from collectors in Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia,” said Dan Morphy. “Because of that interest, members of our team will be attending overseas shows in the months to come, where we hope we’ll be able to meet many of the collectors who support us.”
Morphy’s Spring Antiques Auction was the last of four highly successful sales produced by the Pennsylvania company within an eight-week period. The series included specialty auctions in two new categories: numismatics and fine dolls/dollhouses/teddy bears. Morphy’s next sale, a Fall Antiques Auction, will take place Sept. 11-13, with a special highlight being the Andy Huffer toy motorcycle collection.
Morphy Auctions is a division of Geppi’s Entertainment Auctions & Publications. For information on consigning to future sales, to view prices realized in past sales or to learn more about upcoming auctions, call 717-335-3435, e-mail [email protected], or log on to www.morphyauctions.com.